This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
Twitter Impresses Wall Street
Twitter had a strong first quarter according to its latest earnings report, which even included some strong user growth numbers.
Daily active users are now up to 134 million, a considerable jump from the 126 million reported in Q4. This is the first earnings report that includes a focus on daily active users instead of monthly users. According to Twitter, this focus reflects its desire to drive users to the site every single day and monetize them. It’s also a more attractive number for Twitter to share as Twitter removes spam and suspicious accounts driving monthly users down.
In addition to the spike in user numbers, revenue is up 18% year-over-year. Shares of Twitter rose 10% following the earnings.
Twitter has been rolling out new features at a pretty rapid pace as of late. It’s doing quite a bit now to curb abuse on the platform, and it launched a prototype app to test new features like threaded conversations and an emphasis on photography. All of these efforts appear to be being rewarded with an active user base. That’s where Twitter appears to be focused on winning. It doesn’t have the scale of a Facebook or Instagram, but the users it does have are engaged and coming back to the platform regularly.
Snap Shows Signs of Life in Earnings Report
Snap had a good earnings report, surprisingly enough. Sales jumped 39% over last year to reach $320 million in revenue, beating analysis expectations, and user numbers were up to 190 million daily users, the first increase in users in four quarters.
The news comes just a month after Snap announced a new ad network allowing advertisers to buy ads through Snapchat across a network of apps, a greater emphasis on video games and more production on exclusive shows. That news sparked optimism among investors that Snap has plans to engage its growing number of users after losing them for over a year.
To take it one step further, the long-awaited redesigned Android app is finally out after being completely rebuilt to improve lenses, Stories and the creation of Snaps. The app is 25% smaller and opens 20% faster. Snap’s already seen a 6% increase in the number of users on low-end devices sending snaps within the first week of the upgrade being available.
It’s certainly not a comeback yet, but Snap has been able to show some momentum during a month where not much was expected of it. Now, we’ll see if this is a full-on turnaround or an outlier for the platform. But having a redesigned Android app and some plans to engage an audience that may not have been using Snapchat that much before with games and new content, Snap appears to be on a positive trajectory.
Facebook has Good Quarter but Trouble Brews
Facebook reported their Q1 earnings, and once again, the social network is financially doing very well. Daily users hit 1.56 billion, and monthly users now sit at 2.38 billion on average. Revenue jumped 26%, which is increasingly coming more from Instagram and Stories and less from Facebook proper.
Speaking of Stories, Facebook revealed that 500 million Stories views are taking place on Facebook and Messenger, not just Instagram or WhatsApp. 1/3 of Facebook’s 1.56 billion daily users are engaging with Stories every single day, which is impressive considering the feature felt largely redundant when it was added to Facebook after being available on Instagram. Stories are important for Facebook, which is relying on the feature to add ad inventory to match demand.
All of that was largely business as usual for a Facebook earnings report. What wasn’t business as usual was Facebook’s revelation that it's setting aside $3 billion to pay off a fine that will likely be levied by the FTC for violations by Facebook in its privacy practices. The expense could go as high as $5 billion.
That sounds like a hefty fine, but when you consider Facebook grew by $15 billion in the past year, it’s little more than a drop in the bucket for the social network, which is why investors responded to the news by sending Facebook shares up by about $40 billion in its market cap in after-hours trading.
News Quick Hits
Facebook has hired Jennifer Newstead as general counsel and John Pinette as VP of global communications in its efforts to deal with its never-ending crisis mode. Newstead brings deep political experience, including working on regulation. Pinette recently worked with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen on business and philanthropic initiatives. Before that he worked with Bill Gates.
Mark Zuckerberg is under increasing pressure for Facebook’s recent lapses in user privacy and data sharing practices. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has written a letter to the FTC urging the regulatory body to consider holding Zuckerberg “individually liable” for Facebook’s violations. If that happens, it would be a big precedent for all tech companies to weigh and could lead to Zuckerberg facing backlash from shareholders.
Instagram has launched a new quiz sticker for Instagram Stories. Users can now customize a quiz and allow others to choose between two to four possible answers. They can then see which of their friends got the right answer.
Twitter has a new option that lets users report voter manipulation and misinformation. The option is available when a user reports a tweet. Users could do this before, but it was a less streamlined process. Now, it’s faster and gets reviewed by the right team at Twitter quicker.
The Brave web browser is aiming to do something a bit different when it comes to ad blocking. The browser will allow users to enable ads that will display as desktop notifications on their computers. Users who opt in to the ads will receive a 70% cut of the ad revenue generated by the ads in the form of Brave’s cryptocurrency called Basic Attention Tokens.
What was inevitable appears to be happening. Comcast is now negotiating the sale of its 30% stake in Hulu to the current majority Hulu owner, Disney. Disney became majority owner after its acquisition of Fox. Hulu appears to be a major puzzle piece in Disney’s streaming ambitions that also include Disney+ and ESPN+.
Amazon reported its Q1 earnings and one notable shift for marketers is the company’s ad business fell to a growth of 36%. While it’s still growing, 36% pales in comparison to the nearly 100% growth its ad business saw in Q4 of last year after committing to compete more directly with Google and Facebook for digital ad dollars.